Monthly Archives: April 2020

staying at home: corn chapatis and meat korma

summary: meat korma, puffing corn chapatis (based on our recipe for corn tortillas); staying at home gives more time for experimenting in the kitchen; getting inspiration by re-reading back-issues of SAVEUR Magazine;

They puffed!! They puffed!!!

meat korma, rapini saag, beet salad, and corn chapati

In no particular order, T has been gradually re-reading our back issues of SAVEUR magazine. As he read SAVEUR No.102 (May 2007), “Stars of India: Indian Classics” by Margo True (with the most beautiful photos taken by the inimitable Penny de los Santos), he noticed a photo of goat curry swimming in oil.

India is teeming with cuisines and subcuisines, yet those of us in North America mainly know only two of them: rustic village cooking from the Punjab and the extravagant court cuisine of the Moghul emperors, both from the northern part of the country. […] In 1913, more than 30 years before Moti Mahal introduced tandoori food to Delhi, a Muslim cook named Haji Karimuddin set up a food stall called Karim’s near the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. His ancestors supposedly cooked for the entire line of Moghul emperors, starting in the 16th century, and Karimuddin served the kind of delicate Indo-Persian cooking that epitomized that court’s cuisine. […] Located off a lane lined with gritty food stalls and heaving with humanity, stray goats, and squalling autorickshaws, Karim’s still does a terrific business. To find it you have to look for a small red sign opposite a narrow opening between buildings. Duck through that tight passage into a pocket of warm, spicy, meaty aromas, where you’ll find a tiny courtyard ringed with small dining rooms and a hodgepodge of open kitchens. Directly in front is an elevated platform where breads, including the amazing roomali roti — as thin and soft as a fine muslin handkerchief — are baked. The platform is surrounded by metal pots on burners, in which simmer various meat and vegetable specialties (the oily and delicious goat korma, dark with browned shallots, is a big seller; the burra kebab, a meltingly tender roasted lamb chop, is another).
– Margo True, SAVEUR No.102 (May 2007), Stars of India: Indian Classics, photographs by Penny de los Santos, p77

staying at home: corn chapatis and meat korma

And T suddenly announced that he would make Indian-style curry – something like Karim’s Korma – for dinner that night. Then came the question: did I want to have chapatis? Or naan?

I chose naan. How could I not?

Naan!! Yes! Because we thought it has become warm enough to fire up the grill.

Bzzzzzt! Wrong. :stomp: :stomp: Well, not completely wrong. It has become warm enough. But it got cold and cloudy again that particular day.

So we made a sudden change of direction and decided on chapatis. But not the usual “thin and soft as a fine muslin handkerchief” chapatis. T said we would make corn chapatis….

Corn chapatis? Corn tortillas, sure. But corn chapatis?! (continue reading )

Kürtőskalács – Chimney Cakes (BBB April 2020)

go directly to the recipe

BBB: Let's Keep Baking summary: recipe for Kürtőskalács(ish) (Chimney Cakes); flaunting traditions; replacing the egg; fixing errors; still staying at home; various grocery store prices; information about Bread Baking Babes;

Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Kürtőskalács – Chimney Cakes

Oh dear. Late again… but, but, but, I baked on time!!

See? Here is the proof:

FB screenshot 16 April 2020

I’ve had chimney cakes bookmarked since January 2018! I even contemplated choosing them myself for the BBBabes’ project that month.

Once again, I’ve waffled like crazy about what to choose. […] I really got distracted, gazing at Mădălina’s (Duhlicious) Kürtös Kalács that she describes as a “hollow pastry cooked over an open fire. Roughly translated, it means “chimney cake”, and it is DELICIOUS“.
– me, New Year’s Challenge: Tartine Polenta Bread (BBB January 2018)
To make these, you wrap a thin strip of pastry around a wooden cylinder, and cooked on an open flame, rotating it as it cooks until golden brown. Once cooked, they’re heavily sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon, walnuts, almonds, or any combination of the four.
– Mădălina, Duhlicious | Mini Kurtosh Colac – Kürtös Kalács
There are many myths about the origin of the chimney cake. One of the most popular ones is connected to the Mongol invasion. It is believed that the population of Szeklerland decided to escape from the Tatar troops. Some people went up to the hills, while others hid in the caves of Budvár and Rez. Since the Tatars couldn’t attack or approach them, they decided to starve the Szeklers out. This went on for a long time, until both the Tatars and Szeklers lived up their food. But a smart Szekler woman scraped together the leftover flour, mixed it with ash and baked huge loafs, which they put on wooden dongs or tall poles and showed to the Tatars: “Look, how great we’re doing while you’re starving!” The Tatars gave up and marched off resentfully.
– Daily News Hungary | Recipe of the week: Chimney cake

BBB Chimney Cake It’s so thrilling to have made these chimney cakes at last!

(continue reading )

Staying at Home: Happy Easter!

summary: staying at home; spring has sprung; comfort food; hoping for normalcy; Happy Easter!

A yellow warbler was singing in the back garden the other day. Chives and garlic are up. The forsythia is just about to bloom.

Under normal circumstances, my sister would have been joining us tonight for our annual Easter feast – this time ham and scalloped potatoes and broccoli and beet salad.

But these aren’t normal circumstances, are they? :stomp: :stomp:

Easter Eggs 2020 (© ejm)

So. In keeping with staying at home but still celebrating, we’re having a red chili omelette for breakfast. (Green garlic omelette would be good too, but we have coriander leaf in the fridge….) (continue reading )

Still Staying at Home…

summary: needless panic buying; no yeast? make your own; alternative: make no-yeast breads; DIY project: grocery store masks;

There’s no danger of flour running out. The industry has access to grain, has capacity, and will produce products our customers/consumers want as fast as we can
-Christopher Clark, vice president of communications for the North American Millers’ Association
I can absolutely and unequivocally say there is no shortage. What we have is a demand issue.
– Robb MacKie, the president and CEO of the American Bakers Association
The extraordinary demand has put stress on flour production capacity, packaging capacity, transportation capacity, and warehousing capacity. This stress has resulted in some temporary shortages on the retail grocery store shelves. Rest assured that we are doing everything in our power to meet this unprecedented demand.
-Rogers Foods Canada

As the realization that toilet paper is perhaps not the item most needed in these times of having to stay at home, people have suddenly realized that they a.) have to eat, and b.) have plenty of time to spend in the kitchen!

Therefore, suddenly, both flour and yeast have become the new toilet paper. The flour shelves are virtually empty. Online flour companies cannot keep up with the demand – in spite of the fact that they state categorically that they have plenty on hand in their warehouses.

As a result of these “shortages”, in various news sources, and on FB, I’m suddenly seeing post after article after article giving or asking for advice on how to make a sourdough starter. And it’s driving me mad that there are answer after answer after answer pointing to sourdough starter recipes that call for huge amounts of it to thrown away.

Though the New York Times reported last week that there has been no major disruptions to the American food supply chain, consumers have been stockpiling. This fear-induced behavior has created an environment where grocery stores—which are typically stocked with enough items for daily, not multi-weekly, need—cannot keep up with demand. […]
“There has honestly never been a better time to build your own sourdough starter,” NYC-based pastry chef Zoe Kanan told me in an email. Requiring just flour, water, and time, sourdough starter relies on wild yeast naturally present in flour and in the air of your home.
– Rebecca Firkser, Food52 | Here’s Why All the Yeast Is Sold Out Right Now Plus, what to do if you can’t find it, 28 March 2020
[A]ll you really need to get a culture bubbling is some quality flour and pure water to farm the microbes responsible for fermentation. […]
In a small bowl, stir together 60 g / ½ cup flour and 60 g / 6 tablespoons water to form a thick and sticky mixture with no dry lumps remaining. Cover loosely with cheesecloth or a clean towel and set in a warm location for 2 to 3 days or until you detect a light, boozy scent and see bubbles breaking the surface. Discard half and add another 60 g / ½ cup flour […]
– Sarah Owens, Food52 | A Simple Sourdoube Starter, 8 March 2019

Discard half?! Why? And in these days of difficulty in finding flour on the supermarket shelves, it seems even more important not to throw any of your precious flour away.

Mercifully, there are a few people who are addressing this aspect of needless waste.

As more people bake their blues away while stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, yeast is reportedly becoming harder to find on grocery store shelves. […]
    The Verge asked Stephen Jones, director of Washington State University’s Bread Lab, for simple instructions. What you’ll actually be doing is capturing wild yeast and bacteria that’s already present in the air or in the flour to make a “sourdough starter.” This is what bakers have relied on for generations before commercial yeast became available less than 100 years ago. […]
    If you’re feeling at all intimidated, you can take comfort in knowing that people have been making bread this way for thousands of years. There’s very little risk of messing up your starter, according to Jones. It might smell a little “cheesy” around day three or four, but as long as it’s not slimy or smells putrid (this is rare, Jones says), then you’re in the clear. There’s also some flexibility, so none of the measurements Jones gives need to be exact and you won’t have to worry if you forget to “feed” the starter one morning. “We’ve got enough pressure right now,” Jones says. “Take the pressure off yourself and just relax and enjoy.”
– Justine Calma, The Verge | How to make your own yeast for baking
You probably already have what you need at home

“For home bread bakers who don’t have to make identical bread every day, the dirty little secret is that you can use a mature starter that’s not at its absolute peak and the bread will still work,” says Niko Triantafillou, an avid home baker whose full-time job is at Citigroup. Triantafillou started baking his own bread about five years ago for fun, and because, at least for him, naturally leavened breads taste better and are easier on the digestive system.
– Daniela Galarza, Epicurious | Do You Really Have to Discard Sourdough Starter?

We’ve been big fans of Jane Mason’s (All You Knead is Bread) 5 day “no discarding” starter since the outset. The whole wheat starter that I created (without throwing any of it away) in July 2017 is still going strong…..

  • How to capture wild yeast Natural Wheat Starter in 5 Days (100% hydration) based on a recipe in “All You Knead is Bread” by Jane Mason

In fact, the following statement from Jane Mason’s website (also echoed in her book), is exactly why we decided to try her method:

You do not need to feed your starter slavishly every day. I once found some of the 1857 in the back of the fridge that had been there for about 5 years. I refreshed it and made bread. Good as new. Remember, sourdough was used by people who did not have access to commercial yeast – cowboys rolled it up in their bed rolls, pioneering women transported it in the back of covered waggons, families living on the steppes of Russia managed to keep theirs alive in spite of harsh Siberian winters. You can freeze it, you can dry it, you can ignore it – it will always come back.
– Jane Mason, Virtuous Bread | Making sourdough starters

Tartine Bread

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